Typically, the first defender to arrive should take the ball carrier low to affect a quick take-down, or at least halt the ball carrier’s forward momentum. The second to arrive too-often helps finish the tackle and falls with the original. If this is necessary to bring a big carrier down, so be it; but if not, the second defender should be going for the ball! Plenty of amateur ball carriers forget to hold on tightly when faced with the pressure of being tackled. On the flip side, some players immediately give up running when they realise they’re in danger of having the ball stripped. This will allow the tackle to be completed more easily, or even invite a choke tackle scenario. We have to remember that amateur players are not pros, and only a few will be devotees to the gym who’ll be able to retain the ball against all rip attempts.

A good rip is a full upper body movement …

If the ball isn’t going to come, latching on and smothering it prevents an offload. If a second attacking player joins the two defenders latched on to the ball carrier, we now have a maul. If the ball does not emerge, a scrum will go to the team that didn’t bring the ball into contact (typically, the defence). Once maul has been called, defenders cannot pull the maul down, but when the maul loses forward momentum or falls under its own momentum, the defending team is not obliged to release or roll away and can ensure they get the scrum by preventing the ball from emerging. If, however, the ball carrier gets to ground before or while the maul has formed, a ‘tackle’ has technically occurred, so the player attempting to strip the ball has to release it. Referees are getting better at shouting “Tackle!” when this occurs, making it easier for all to understand (and for defenders to release and go straight in for the ball before a ruck forms).